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Last Updated: Monday, 8 March, 2004, 14:30 GMT
Town to stage Merlin week
Mike Doyle and Ieuan Evans with Merlin
Mike Doyle and Ieuan Evans will host events at the Merlin Festival
A week long festival celebrating Carmarthen's links with Arthurian legend is set to become a permanent summer fixture.

It is hoped the Merlin, Magic and Mystery Festival will do for Carmarthen what the annual Hay-on-Wye Book Festival has done in attracting tourists to the mid Wales town.

A programme of magic shows, competitions, street entertainment and historical re-enactments will be held between 4 and 12 June.

Entertainer Mike Doyle and former British Lions rugby star Ieuan Evans, both from Carmarthen, will host events.

There is a genuine association between Merlin and the town
Ieuan Evans

Evans said at Monday's launch: "It's going to be a huge boost to the local economy and I hope its going to be the first of many.

"We all know the benefits of the Brecon Jazz and Hay-on-Wye festivals and hopefully this will be a huge success.

"It's not just something that is artificial. There is a genuine association between Merlin and the town."

Legend has it that Carmarthen was the birthplace of Merlin - King Arthur's wizard.

The name Merlin is a corruption of Myrddin and some believe the town's Welsh name Caerfyrddin is after the wizard.

King Arthur
The Black Book of Carmarthen makes reference to King Arthur

The 'Black Book of Carmarthen', written over 750 years ago, includes some of the earliest Welsh literature, including references to King Arthur and Myrddin.

Doyle added: "I grew up with the stories of Merlin and Carmarthen so I'm delighted to be involved.

"Carmarthen is a such a friendly place and having grown-up here I have based a lot of the characters in my act on people in the town.

"We are just going to have fun and hopefully people from the town and further away will come and join in."

The festival is being organised by Carmarthenshire Council, the chamber of trade, tourism association and others.

The focus of the week will be a 'culture village' erected at Nott Square but there will also be shows at the Lyric Theatre and the town park.

"It's not only for the culture vultures but for everyone," added Evans.

Last year a one day Merlin event was staged and council leader Meryl Gravell said that had attracted interest from as far a field as America.

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